During their days as students at San Marcos High nearly three decades ago, Rod Caughell, Jeff Azain and Jack Mochnick spent a lot of time together on the basketball court.

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The three of them – each of whom has since gone on to coach – will be back on the court together this month as they look to help young players in the Valley develop their games.

Azain, a longtime assistant coach at Westmont College, will join Caughell, the current Santa Ynez High boys basketball coach, and former Pirates assistant Mochnick in the Santa Ynez High gym for a four-day youth camp scheduled for June 18-21. The undertaking will also include Utah Valley University director of basketball operations Rob Goodrow, and the current Pirates players and assistant coaches among its instructors.

“It’s a good way to build skills and get them ready to play high school ball and kind of give them a passion for the game,” Caughell said of the camp, which will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day.

Following the one at Santa Ynez, Azain, Goodrow and Mochnick will head to Dunn School to hold a similar venture in Los Olivos from June 25-29. Those five days will last from 9 a.m. to noon each day. Registration is ongoing for both camps, which are open to boys and girls ages 7-14 and will feature several drills and contests aimed at developing skills and fostering a strong, knowledgeable background of the sport.

Mochnick was among the creators of the camp 12 years ago, while he was still serving on the staff at Santa Ynez. He said the original purpose of the camp was two-fold.

“One was to hopefully tell kids that there was a good skill camp available to them and for those kids that were serious about getting better at basketball who were possibly going to be coming to the high school,” he said. “And the other was just basically to have a nice fun environment and place to go if they wanted to try the game at any level.”

Along with developing its possible future players, the Santa Ynez camp will also serve as a fundraiser for the school’s basketball program. Some of the funds raised will go toward new jerseys for the team, which hasn’t had a uniform update in seven years. The coach said the players have already picked out a style – similar to the uniforms worn in this year’s McDonalds High School All-America game – and are looking forward to their new look.

Before the players break out the new duds, however, they will help teach the young players and possibly learn some things themselves from the other coaching instructors. Azain, who is in both the San Marcos High and Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table Halls of Fame, has been coaching at Westmont for 21 seasons and has run camps in the Valley for several years.

“He brings great expertise in working with the kids,” Caughell said of Azain. “It raises the bar quite a bit from just me and my coaches running the camp. He runs a great camp.”

Mochnick said one of the more rewarding aspects of the event for him is to see the former campers back now as instructors. One of those is Pirates assistant coach Dave Ibsen, who participated in that first such venture involving Mochnick, Caughell and Azain 12 years ago. Ibsen went on to play at Santa Ynez and is now coaching the boys junior varsity team.

“That’s one of the best parts – seeing someone like him, and there have been a couple others,” Mochnick said of Ibsen. “To see them come back and help, and the connection that they have with the kids – all the young kids like to be around other young guys who know a lot about the game, and these guys do – that’s really rewarding. We’ve been around the game a lot. But to see some of our players come back and instruct others, that’s huge.” He added that one of the most fun aspects of the camp is watching the growth of the young players, some of whom have little experience with the game.

“They’re all at different levels and it’s fun to give them an opportunity to really see good skill-learning and good skill-building in basketball, which we grew up with,” he said. “We were sort of self-motivated by each other as friends, and we helped each other all the time and were basketball gym rats. To then be able to give that back to the kids is big. It’s nice to be able to show them some of the great things we learned when we were young guys.”

To register for or get information about the Santa Ynez camp, parents can email Caughell at rscuaghell@gmail.com or reach Azain at (805) 452-0959 or at jazain@westmont.edu. Those interested in the Dunn camp should contact Azain or visit www.dunnschool.org/summerprograms.

“Good tennis shoes, shorts and a comfortable T-shirt” is all the campers need to bring with them, according to Mochnick.


Baseball camp

The Santa Ynez High baseball program will be hosting a youth camp June 11-14 at the Pirates’ baseball field. The camp, which is open to players ages 8-13, will be run by Santa Ynez coaches and players. There will be drills for hitting, as well as defensive and position-specific workouts.

The camp will run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day. For more information, contact Pirates coach Warren Dickey at (805) 688-1648 or at wdickey@syvuhsd.org.

willis@syvjournal.com